Reuters International

SOFIA (Reuters) - A Bulgarian government deputy minister resigned on Tuesday after public prosecutors charged him with involvement in the misuse of more than $530,000 (374,230 pounds) of state railways money nine years ago.

The scandal has further undermined Bulgarians' trust in public institutions as it comes under increasing pressure from the European Union to crack down further on graft by top officials.

Prosecutors said the charges against Anton Ginev, a deputy transport minister, related to urgent rebuilding work carried out in 2007 at a railway station in the Danube town of Ruse.

The government chose a company controlled by a former parliamentary deputy and the money was allocated from the state railway infrastructure company (NRIC) where Ginev was then chief.

In a statement on Tuesday, the Sofia city prosecutor's office said Ginev had been charged after an investigation into "intentional mis-management" of 927,000 levs ($531,750.13) in 2007 when he was NRIC general director.

The prosecutors' office said Ginev's actions, which deliberately benefited a company controlled by a former lawmaker, amounted to a serious crime which had caused huge damage to the NRIC.

Ginev was not immediately available for comment. But the government's press office said shortly after the prosecutors' statement that Prime Minister Boiko Borisov had accepted his resignation.

Bulgaria and neighbouring Romania hope progress in dealing with corruption and graft at home will lead to them being allowed to join the EU's Schengen zone and benefit from passport-free travel within the bloc.

($1 = 1.7433 leva)

(Reporting by Angel Krasimirov; Editing by Richard Balmforth)

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